Crabbers, rejoice — winter sport crabbing opened Oct. 1 through the end of the year in the waters around Whidbey.
Recreational crabbing opened in marine areas 8-1 and 8-2, which covers the waters around the island, along with most other fishing areas in Western Washington. The season is open seven days a week through Dec. 31.
Ralph Downes, a local enforcement officer for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said a rough estimate of the recreational summer harvest would be anywhere between 700,000-750,000 pounds of Dungeness crab from the areas between Whidbey and Camano Islands.
That number could change after the department receives all of the summer catch cards from recreational fishermen. The deadline passed on Oct. 1.
Crabbers are limited to five male Dungeness crab in hard-shell condition per day with a minimum carapace size of 6.25 inches. Crabbers are also allowed to keep six red rock crabs of either sex with a minimum carapace size of 5 inches, and six Tanner crabs of either sex with a minimum carapace width of 4.5 inches.
Two fishing spots, marine areas 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) and 11 (Vashon Island), did not open for winter crab because a “large portion” of the state share of crab was caught in those areas during the summer, according to a news release from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency will decide if those areas can open for the winter season after it evaluates summer catch card data.
Winter crab catch cards are due to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife by Feb. 1 next year.